Tag Archives: romance

Review of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower

I received a free audio copy of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower.

Description from Goodreads:

Lady Catherine Langdon is special, and not because she’s the daughter of a duke. She comes from a long line of individuals born with extraordinary gifts, and she is one of the few that has a variation of all three. On the brink of war she makes a decision that will irrevocably alter the course of her life—love or duty.

Asher Rossington, the Marquess of Seabrook, decided at a very early age that he would not live an idle life. His father forbade him from being a spy for the crown, but he chose to ignore it. Ash never regretted his choice, but wished he could have repaired his relationship with his father before he died. Now with the fate of the world in turmoil he has to make another hard decision—remain a spy for king and country, or go home and honor his father’s title.

The Great War brings Catherine and Asher into each other’s lives. Only time will tell if their destiny is to be together, or if they will ultimately serve a higher purpose.

Review:

Both the title and the book description are inaccurate.Wildly so. I kind of even question it’s classification as a romance. At least in the sense that the romance genre is one in which a a love story is central, where the “main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work.” That’s present yes, but it’s barely central.

I’m not actually claiming this isn’t a romance, just that it doesn’t feel as if the romance is central to the plot. The characters fall in love within a chapter of meeting and the whole rest of the book is the war. They pass each other on occasion and tell each other how much they love each other. But the love is established early and there is NO TENSION OR CHALLENGE TO IT. Only the inconveniences of war. And honestly Asher seems to have free movement around France. So, it hardly even feels like that much of an impediment. 

Even the hard decision referred to doesn’t exist. The two are firm in their non-decision to stay in France (as in they never even discuss anything else) until a singular event makes them both decide to return to England. (And that isn’t honoring Asher’s father’s title. That is never a consideration in the narrative.) Since they both have the freedom and funds to make leaving happen in a day there is no difficulty in it.

Also, it’s war and they can leave in a day. That tells you how much tension the war is really creating in the narrative. Not much.

Then there are Catherine’s abilities. They are mentioned. But if you took them out of the book the plot wouldn’t change at all. The single vision she tries to act on doesn’t come to pass and the one that you’d expect her to act on (based on past behavior) she doesn’t. The ‘gifts’ are a pointless plot device. 

And as to the title? Asher is in no way a rogue. There is nothing even remotely roguish about him. In the last chapter he thinks to himself that he had been a rogue before meeting Catherine. But that’s it. He’s kind and gentle and loyal and respectful throughout the book, and there is no reference to him chasing other women in the past. HE’S NOT A ROGUE at all. 

The writing here is perfectly competent, as is the narration. But I felt like the book was just a random series of events with very little tying it all together. Even characters appear and disappear with no point. Why did we meet James, have him disappear and be replaced with Julian? Plus, (as I said above) the description totally is inaccurate. This wasn’t a total flop for me, but I didn’t finish it particularly thrilled.

Review of Love on a Train, by Colleen L. Donnelly

I received an Audible code for a copy of Colleen L. Donnelly‘s Love on a Train.

Description from Goodreads:

The moment Martha noticed Raymond on the train, everything her mother warned against erupted – romantic notions, palpitating heart, the desire to write it all in a novel and tell the world. 
Martha lived and wrote that love story until the day Raymond handed her a sketch. “Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” The penciled profile resembled Martha… But when Raymond went away, she knew. She wasn’t the girl he planned to marry. 
David was her father’s apprentice, everything Martha’s mother said made a good husband – hardworking, no romantic tendencies, no tolerance for writing about it. 
Martha added a fictional happy ending to her and Raymond’s story and published it. Cleansed herself of romantic love, ready to marry David. Until a copy of her book appeared. Full of sketches, Raymond’s version of their love story, drawings that enticed her heart to beat once again. 

Review:

My rating (which was a 2 star) is based on my enjoyment—or general lack there of—and the fact that I had to force myself to finish the book. The writing is solid and I’ll even concede that the book within a book mechanism was clever (though occasionally repetitive). And the narrator (Amy Deuchler) did a good job with the audio version. However, I didn’t enjoy the book.

I understand that it was supposed to be set just after the end of the world war and women of that time period had different responsibilities and restrictions. But my god, Martha was a fucking doormat. She didn’t stand up to her mother when they pushed her into an engagement she obviously didn’t want. She didn’t push pack when her fiancé (and mother) expected her to give up all of herself to be a wife. She somehow fell in love and thought to marry a man she met on the train, but apparently didn’t actually know that well. She just went along with everything, internally hand wringing the whole time. And despite being obviously smart, she had NO AMBITION beyond getting married.

Then there was the fact that said man was already engaged to another and just disappeared for months without a word. But as soon as he shows up everything was forgiven and it’s supposed to be a happy ending. Ummmm, no.

And Donnelly should seriously be fined for making the reading of a novel take weeks, dragging the plot out interminably and then, after hundreds of pages of ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ marry him, having the decision and event (arguably the most interesting thing to happen in the book) happen off page, such that the reader is denied it.

I imagine this is just a case of wrong reader for the book. There will no doubt be some that enjoy this. But I did not. I was almost insulted by it.

Review of The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1), by Alisha Rai

cover of the Right Swipe

I won a paperback copy of Alisha Rai‘s The Right Swipe through Goodreads. However, since I seem to be listening to a lot more books than reading lately, I borrowed an audio copy through Hoopla to listen to . I’ll put the paperback in the Little Free Library next time I swap books.

Description from Goodreads:

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules: 

– Nude pics are by invitation only 

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice 

– Protect your heart 

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears. 

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

Review:

I have to give a caveat that contemporary romance isn’t really my jam. I love me some romance, but I’d rather it be set on Mars or in some fantasy realm with Elves or dragons. But interesting looking contemporary romances keep falling in my lap and I’m reading them. 

There seems to be a trend lately of writing romances that correct for all the harmful BS that the genre has suffered from in the past (and a lot of why I’ve avoided it). They’re sex positive, inclusive, diverse and feminist. And I cannot tell you how strongly I am here for that shift in tone! The Right Swipe has that in spades. Samson basically offers to hold Rhi’s purse while she works toward world domination. I loved it. 

I did think Rhi was overreactive at times and the book bordered on didactic on several fronts. But I loved Samson and generally enjoyed the story. Plus, Morton and Pallino did great jobs with the narration.